It was completely inefficient. Box no.1 had taken way too long.
I couldn’t paint another two boxes from scratch and finish three boxes in the allotted time.
Box no. 2 was only at the stage of cutting out the card, and Box 3 was still a twinkle in the eye of my sketchbook.
How else could I create the effect I wanted for these boxes without laboriously painting them?
In search of alternative solutions
I rooted through my paper stash and came up with a delicious piece of bronze, sparkly paper I bought two summers ago, and some contrasting creamy-gold, pearlised card. Sticking them back to back gave me the two-toned effect I wanted, and saved me a ton of painting time.
Now I needed a way to speed up the surface design.
Stamping the design would definitely be quicker than painting it.
Recently I’ve got into making stamps. I use recycled plastic packaging and polystyrene plates. They work great for large, simple designs, but they’re too difficult to cut for small details.
I remember I’d seen mention of a really soft material for carving stamps. Perhaps I could order some? But I would also need to buy a cutting tool...
“Surely I don’t need to buy more materials?” said the voice of minimalism and frugality that has always lived inside of me.
When Minimalism gets in the way
I have a core of favourite, basic, art media that I use for everything. Not for me those stacks of unused materials mouldering on the shelf. Or binge purchases in art supply stores as a substitution for actually making something.
If I can make it, or mix it out of something I’ve already got, then I don’t need to buy it.
Use it up. Wear it out.
Probably it was my Dad's tendency towards minimalism that led me to limit my art materials to the strictly necessary.
He was a minimalist long before minimalism became a thing.
Opening his drawers after he died, I was amazed at how a man who apparently lead such a conventional existence could leave behind so little.
You would have been forgiven for confusing him with a monk.
Beyond a modest selection of clothes, a small stash of classical recordings, a prayer book and a computer, he had almost no personal belongings.
Even the few tools he owned were manual wood-working tools and time-worn gardening implements.
He was a man who stepped quietly and thoughtfully through life, trying not to tread on the daisies.
My mother, on the other hand, was a hoarder. She held onto everything until the day it all got burnt in a house fire caused by arsonists.
I was clear about which path I wanted to follow.
I’ve always thought of this restraint as one of my better qualities.
Cost versus efficiency
A month or so ago, I finally bought a circle cutter instead of using a compass with a craft knife wedged into it. How much quicker I can now cut circles. And how much smoother they are.
That small financial outlay saved me hours of inefficient work.
Perhaps my creative frugality isn't the tremendous strength I've always seen it as? Maybe I am sometimes choosing simplicity over efficiency?
“One of the things people spend a lot of time doing is telling themselves stories. These stories are often somewhat true or at least they're somewhat useful to the person.
What stories have you ascribed to yourself that might no longer be relevant or appropriate?
What are your greatest strengths that may also be your biggest weaknesses in certain instances?
Ponder and share your thoughts in the comments.